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Here's how many members of the Defence Forces have failed drug tests

Compulsory random testing was introduced in 2003.

EIGHTY FIVE MEMBERS of the Defence Forces have failed drug tests since mandatory random testing was introduced in 2003.

When answering a parliamentary question this week, Defence Minister Simon Coveney noted that, as of 16 October, the Defence Forces have tested 16,804 personnel – meaning 99.49% of tests were negative.

Coveney noted that “appropriate administrative action” was taken in the 85 positive cases (0.51%).

Gerry Rooney, the General Secretary of PDFORRA (the body that represents personnel), said that the “extremely low level” of positive tests indicate that “the Defence Forces is not an environment where members take drugs at any time”.

The number of members testing positive is low, but it increased from 6 in 2011 to 16 in 2012, before reducing to 13 last year. Just two people have tested positive for drugs so far in 2014.

Here’s a breakdown of drug tests carried on personnel in the last 11 years:

Year Total Tested Positive Tests
2003 1,086 4
2004 1,110 4
2005 1,238 7
2006 1,212 7
2007 1,905 7
2008 1,908 6
2009 1,719 6
2010 1,586 7
2011 1,362 6
2012 2,058 16
2013 1,054 13
2014 (As at 16/10/14) 566 2
Total 16,804 85

Coveney noted that testing of members of the Defence Forces, which includes the Irish army, navy, air corps and reserves, is random to “provide a credible deterrent” as all personnel are liable.

Compulsory Random Drugs Testing (CRDT) and Targeted Drugs Testing (TDT) support the Defence Forces’ policy on drug and substance abuse or misuse. This is based on the premise that unlawful possession, supply or use of a controlled substance is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces.

“The primary objective of CRDT and TDT is deterrence. The Defence Forces continues to be a leading organisation with regard to workplace drug testing in Ireland.”

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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